Oprah Talks to Jay Leno
Oprah: You don't have to do very much these days to be a star.
Jay: What do you mean?
Oprah: Compare the days of Elizabeth Taylor with what we have now—you can be marketed to appear to be a star, even if you don't have a hit song or movie.
Jay: And attention spans are much shorter now. I contend that you cannot give people all the news of the world in 22 minutes. When I was a kid, Walter Cronkite would do the news, then Eric Sevareid would explain the background story. Now you see an Israeli bus being blown up, and across the bottom of the screen there's a crawl saying JENNIFER LOPEZ TO MARRY BEN AFFLECK. What? Jennifer Lopez is marrying Ben Affleck on a blown-up bus in Israel? There's so much happening that you don't know what to focus on.
Oprah: Yes. Getting back to this idea of stars coming and going, I remember seeing a magazine cover of Arsenio Hall saying I'M GONNA KICK JAY LENO'S ASS.
Jay: Oh, yeah—that was funny.
Oprah: You thought that was funny? I didn't.
Jay: Even when Arsenio and I were battling, we'd call each other up to yell and end up making each other laugh. There's really only a dozen or so people doing this kind of thing who understand exactly what's involved and can share your experiences. I always knew Arsenio and I would be friends. I just let that cover go. It's publicity. And when he had his show, both of us had agents and PR people who were allegedly working for our best interests, so a lot of the stuff wouldn't come directly from us.
Oprah: Come on, Jay—you weren't upset for one minute?
Jay: Oh, sure, I was upset at first. But I knew we would be friends again. I remember when Arsenio was on the air for about a week, he said, "This show's gonna be about funk and music—and you're not gonna see Barry Manilow's ass on here." Applause. Cut to a few months later, and Arsenio is sitting there saying, "Barry, your Christmas album is..." Around the time when he was out there with this "I'm gonna kick Jay's ass" stuff I called Arsenio and said, "Didn't you say I wouldn't be seeing Barry Manilow?" We both laughed. I said, "Okay, well, keep kicking my ass." You cannot be mad at somebody who makes you laugh—it's as simple as that. There are other comics I don't trust, but I still find them amusing. Like anything else, comedy can be addictive.